Vegan A La Mode by Emma: Strawberry Fig Cheesecake

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Strawberry Fig Cheesecake

 California summers must be as close to what heaven feels like as it gets.  My week has been filled with hikes along the ocean coast, surfing the Pacific waves, and filling the senses with the Farmer’s Markets of Solana Beach and Del Mar.  I’ve come to adore visiting a local farm booth (Ray Subtropical Farm) at the Del Mar market where the couple that runs the farm shares a variety of exotic fruits and vegetables including sapote, jujube, dragon fruit, and purslane.  Currently the farm is growing several varieties of figs, including strawberry (mission) figs.  I have never tasted a fig that is more juicy and sweet.. bursting with flavor.  Cooking the figs would take away from the complexity and delicious flavor that they provide so I decided to create a raw cheesecake.  Many nuts can be used in the crust including almonds, pecans, brazil, or walnuts.
A few fun facts about figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit.
Health Note:  Figs offer many health benefits including high fiber.  Fresh figs contain adequate levels of some of the anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and K. Altogether these phyto-chemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
Almond Crust
1 1/2 cups almond
4 dates
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup shredded coconut
pinch sea salt
Cheesecake filling
2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked (3-4 hours)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
5 fresh ripe strawberry (mission) figs, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water as needed for blending
pinch sea salt
Place everything in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Use a spatula or spoon to help facilitate blending. Place all ingredients for crust in food processor.  Process until textured. Press almond mixture in pie or cheesecake pan.  If you are not using figs for garnish, then pour over the crust and spread until even. Place in the freezer to set for a couple hours, and then move to the fridge. If using garnish, see below.
Garnish 
1-2 ripe fresh strawberry figs, thinly sliced
After pressing down the crust, line the pan with the sliced figs. Then pour the cheesecake filling over the crust. Place in the freezer to set for a couple hours, then move to the fridge.

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